Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
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The Carson Indian Colony, part of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, is located along the western edge of Carson City just west of Curry Street. The Colony is situated at the base of the east slope of the Carson Range between C-Hill and Voltaire Canyon. The Colony is situated on both the valley floor and the piedmont slope. Approximately fifty residences were evaluated within the Carson Indian Colony that resulted in classifying the Tribal community in the Moderate Hazard category (46 points). A summary of the values that affect the hazard rating is included in Table 6-2. The primary wildfire hazard conditions in the Carson Indian Colony were limited signage on residences and vegetation or debris around some of the structures in the interface area.
The Carson Indian Colony is characterized by a classic interface condition with some characteristics of an occluded interface condition. Throughout most of the Carson Indian Colony, there is a clear line of demarcation between structures and wildland fuels. However undeveloped vacant lots are also interspersed throughout the community with natural vegetative fuels. All of the lots assessed were on parcels of one acre or less and typically had more than three structures per acre. As such, most structures are spaced close together (see Figure 6-1).
A great majority of the homes in the interface were built with fire-resistant siding and fire resistant composite roofing materials. Less than ten percent of homes had an unenclosed features such as a porch, balcony, or deck that create drafty places where firebrands and embers can be trapped, smolder, and ignite, readily spreading fire to the home.
Only 38 percent of the homes assessed had landscaping that would meet the minimum defensible space requirement to help protect the home and minimize the potential for damage or loss during a wildfire. However, the majority of residences had excess vegetation and debris in close proximity to structures. There were also several abandoned structures and mobile homes identified, which can create a fire hazard for adjacent residences in the community.
The Carson City Fire Department provides wildfire and structure protection for homes in the Carson Indian Colony, however no formal agreement exists between the Washoe Tribe and the Carson City Fire Department. The Bureau of Land Management has a formal agreement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs to provide wildfire suppression resources to the 480 acres of BIA land in the municipality. The US Forest Service and the Nevada Division of Forestry also provide fire protection to the Carson City Municipality for wildland-urban interface fires. See Tables 4-2 and 4-3 for more information on fire suppression capabilities for initial attack of wildland fires.
Water availability for fire suppression in the Carson Indian Colony includes 500 gpm hydrants within 500 feet of structures. The water system operates on gravity and electrical pumps. There is an emergency backup generator to run the pumps in the case of a power failure. The existing infrastructure for the water delivery system meets the 1997 Uniform Fire Code standards.
The Carson Indian Colony is included in the Carson City emergency plan and disaster plan. Development plans in the Colony are not reviewed by the Carson City Fire Department for fire safe design and construction.
Vegetation, down fuels, and topography contribute to the potential fire hazard around wildland-urban interface communities. The fuel hazards were mapped for the Carson Indian Colony as shown in Figure 6-2. Photo points were established to document the current condition of the vegetative fuel hazard as shown in Figure 6-3. The fuel hazards mapped for the Carson Indian Colony were revised following the Waterfall Fire and reflect the most recent fuel hazard conditions.
The vegetative fuel density in and around the Carson Indian Colony interface area was generally classified as moderate. Both the Voltaire 2 Fire in 2003 and the Waterfall Fire in 2004 burned the area just west of Cason Colony residences. Vegetation density was greatly reduced in the burned areas and currently provides an effective fuelbreak from west or southwest fires. Rehabilitation and revegetation treatments have been proposed or implemented for the burned areas. If successful, the rehabilitated areas will result in maintaining low to moderate vegetative fuel density over the next ten to twenty years. Cheatgrass has a high potential of dominating the burned areas if the seeding efforts fail. The cheatgrass fuel hazard is predicted to range from low to high depending upon the amount and timing of annual precipitation.
Unburned fuels within the community are moderately dense, consisting primarily of big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, and bitterbrush ranging from three to four feet tall. Cheatgrass ground fuels provide horizontal and vertical continuity between the shrubs. The fuel loading within the Colony was estimated at two tons per acre and was considered a high fuel hazard.
The terrain around the residences is gently sloping with slopes less than 20 percent. Slopes increase from 20 to 35 percent or more just west of the residences. The predominant winds are from the south-southwest in the late afternoon. Strong downslope winds can occur during summer afternoons and evenings.
The Washoe Tribe Environmental Protection Department has completed some brush thinning within the Carson Indian Colony including chipping and removal of a portion of the large pile of brush biomass located in the center of the colony. The Environmental Protection Department is currently working with homeowners to enforce yard and community removal of flammable debris and it is planning additional brush thinning projects throughout the Colony.
The worst-case wildfire scenario for the Carson Indian Colony would occur as a dry lightning ignition or a human caused fire started within the community. A fire started in the unburned fuels within the community could immediately threaten nearby homes.
The Carson Indian Colony has a high ignition risk rating. Many wildfires and ignitions have been recorded in the area adjacent to the Carson Indian Colony. There is a history of lightning strikes in the area. Ignitions are likely due to the moderate fuel load in the community, the tendency for lightning storms during the summer, and the number of wildland recreational users within the Carson City Municipality and near the Carson Indian Colony.
The Carson Indian Colony risk and hazard reduction recommendations focus on improving defensible space and promoting homeowner responsibilities. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination efforts that would enhance the fire safe nature of the Carson Indian Colony. Recommendations are detailed below.
Defensible space is an essential first line of defense for residential structures. Significantly reducing or removing vegetation within a prescribed distance from structures (a minimum of 30 feet to 200 feet depending upon slope and vegetative fuel type) reduces fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against oncoming wildfire. Improving address identification improves firefighters’ ability to locate structures during smoky conditions.
Many of the most effective activities aimed at reducing the threat of wildfire for the Carson Indian Colony require that individual homeowners coordinate with each other, the Washoe Tribe, and with local fire authorities. Defensible space, for example, is more effective in small communities when applied uniformly throughout entire neighborhoods. Public education and awareness, neighbors helping neighbors, and proactive individuals setting examples for others to follow are just a few of the approaches that will be necessary to meet the fire safe goals in the community. Disposal of biomass generated from defensible space and fuel reduction treatments can sometimes be most efficiently handled through community programs.
Nevada Fire Safe Council
1187 Charles Drive
Reno, Nevada 89509
|Involved Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Property Owners||Defensible Space Treatments||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes according to the guidelines in Appendix F.
Maintain defensible space as needed to keep the space lean, clean, and green.
Remove abandoned trailers.
Board up windows and doors of abandoned structures.
|Fuel Reduction Treatments||Reduce fuels at least ten feet along both sides of private driveways that are longer than 200 feet.|
|Community Coordination||Form a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council. Improve address visibility.|
|Washoe Utilities Management Authority||Fuels Reduction||Remove or mow vegetation within three feet of all fire hydrants to improve visibility and access to fire personnel.|
|Washoe Tribe||Fuel Reduction Treatments||Continue program to promote and facilitate cleaning weeds and debris from around structures and fences.
Require property owners to reduce fuels on vacant lots in the Carson Indian Colony.
Carson Indian Colony Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
Carson Indian Colony Fire History
Carson Indian Colony Classification of Fuel Hazard
Photo Point 1. Carson Indian Colony Fuel Hazard Photo Point. 260333E, 4335652N, 352°NW. Within the Carson Indian Colony sagebrush and bitterbrush were interspersed between structures throughout the community. Fuel loads were estimated at two tons/acre and considered a high fuel hazard.
Photo Point 2. Carson Indian Colony Fuel Hazard Photo Point. 4335780N, 260224E,183°S. The Waterfall and Voltaire two fires in 2004 and 2003 have reduced the fuel hazard to low west of the Carson Indian Colony.